Has anyone scored a quieter 18 goals in MLS history?
New York Red Bulls forward Kenny Cooper reached that threshold on Saturday with a brace against the Philadelphia Union, but it has taken him until the final week of the MLS regular season to earn the media's nod for MLS Player of the Week as voted by the North American Soccer Reporters. (See how the media voted here.)
It's his fourth career PotW award for the 28-year-old after capturing it back in 2006 (Week 16) and 2008 (Week 18 and Week 19).
“He’s an ultimate pro,” said New York's Tim Cahill. “He’s one of the players who always puts their body on the line and he’s constantly first one in, last one to leave. But the good thing is, even when he’s not playing, he’s the perfect professional."
Although he finished second in the Golden Boot race to Chris Wondolowski and led the Red Bulls in scoring in his first season with the club, it can be argued that Cooper hasn't been given nearly enough credit for his monster season, even being forced to come off the bench for a stretch of the season. His 2012 scoring output matches his production from 2008 when he wore FC Dallas colors and they are also the second most ever scored in a single season by a New York player.
This past Saturday Cooper scored on a penalty kick and a well-taken diagonal strike that beat Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath into the low left corner. But this is how his manager Hans Backe classified the strike:
"I was surprised when he scored the second one. It looked like, I would say, a mistake from the goalie. Normally, you can’t score from that angle," Backe said. "But still he’s there and he’s up to 18 or something like that, but he needs good players around him to set him up.”
New York Red Bulls star Thierry Henry, the only other member of RBNY to win the Player of the Week award this year, snapped up five of the awards this year alone.
2012 MLS PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Week 34: Kenny Cooper (New York)
Week 33: Brad Evans (Seattle)
Week 32: Chris Wondolowski (San Jose)
Week 31: Thierry Henry (New York)
Week 30: Chris Wondolowski (San Jose)
Week 29: Thierry Henry (New York)
Week 28: Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire)
Week 27: Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders)
Week 26: Federico Higuaín (Columbus Crew)
Week 25: Federico Higuaín (Columbus Crew)
Week 24: David Ferriera (FC Dallas)
Week 23: Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy)
Week 22: Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders)
Week 21: Jairo Arrieta (Columbus Crew)
Week 20: Calen Carr (Houston Dynamo)
Week 19: Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)
Week 18: Álvaro Saborío (Real Salt Lake)
Week 17: Danny Koevermans (Toronto FC)
Week 16: Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy)
Week 13-15: Patrice Bernier (Montreal Impact)
Week 12: Emilio Rentería (Columbus Crew)
Week 11: Dwayne De Rosario (D.C. United)
Week 10: Lee Nguyen (New England Revolution)
Week 9: Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)
Week 8: Steven Lenhart (San Jose Earthquakes)
Week 7: Chris Pontius (D.C. United)
Week 6: Dan Kennedy (Chivas USA)
Week 5: Thierry Henry (New York Red Bulls)
Week 4: Thierry Henry (New York Red Bulls)
Week 3: Thierry Henry (New York Red Bulls)
Week 2: David Estrada (Seattle Sounders)
Week 1: Kalif Alhassan (Portland Timbers)